Addressing UN, Lebanese President urges open hearing on planned Hariri tribunal
Open hearings on the proposed Special Tribunal to try those suspected of involvement in the February 2005 assassination of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Rafik Hariri could help quell controversy, the country’s President told the United Nations General Assembly today.
“To enable all to overcome the controversy caused by the international tribunal, I believe the best way would be by having an impartial, transparent and just hearing that seeks to determine the whole truth,” said Emile Lahoud. “Only then would the Lebanese be assured that this tribunal is just.”
The President said since the adoption of resolution 1701 which ended last year’s war in Lebanon, “we are still in the phase of cessation of hostilities and have not yet moved to the phase of a ceasefire.”
He said Israel continues “up to this very moment” to violate Lebanon’s territory, with 500 breaches of the resolution having been recorded.
“I call upon the world community to remain vigilant against any malignant intent harboured by Israel towards Lebanon as this could lead to another conflagration in the area,” he said.
Full implementation of resolution 1701, he said, requires that Lebanon “regains its occupied Shebaa Farms, the Kfarshouba Hills and some northern parts of the Ghajar village.” It would also require the release of Lebanese prisoners held in Israeli jails, a restoration of Lebanon’s legitimate rights over its water resources, and a handover to Lebanon of maps of landmines and sites of cluster bombs, he added.
Looking to Lebanon’s upcoming presidential elections, he spoke out against outside interference. “Unfortunately there have been attempts by international parties to intervene in Lebanon’s domestic affairs in a way that contradicts international norms,” he said. “Such interference could instigate hatred and increase tension on the Lebanese scene – a thing which not only might have negative repercussions on upcoming presidential elections but on the safety of Lebanese as well,” he said.
He urged the international community to stop foreign intervention in domestic matters. “Consecutive events in Lebanon showed that the Lebanese are capable of making their own decisions and their own choices, and could live side by side and interact peacefully within institutional framework set by their civic bodies and protected by their security institutions, namely their national army.”
The army, he said, had recently confronted “an extremely dangerous terrorist organization that was equipped with updated weapons and believed in destructive objectives that target Lebanon and many other States in the region as well.”
He also called for greater assistance to the Lebanese army to enable it to confront and curb terrorism.
President Lahoud cautioned against allowing Lebanon to fail, warning that this “would mean a collapse of moderation and a victory for those who favour the use of force.”